How to Spatchcock a Chicken or Turkey

Spatchcocking is the process of butterflying a whole chicken or turkey, bones and all.

To spatchcock a chicken, turkey or really any bird, you are cutting it so that it will lay flat. A flattened chicken will cook evenly and faster than a whole chicken due to a similar thickness throughout. It will also be much easier to manage on the grill and have more surface area to absorb your marinade, seasoning and smoky flavors - if you’re using charcoal or wood chips.

All you need is a pair of meat shears, a sharp knife, a hard cutting surface and a chicken.

Steps to Spatchcock


Place the bird breast side down and grab the tail. Then cut up along the side of the backbone.

cut chicken how to cut chicken


Cut down the other side of the spine.

cutting chicken


Remove the backbone.

remove backbone from chicken


The bird still will not be completely flat. So flip the bird over and find the triangle of cartilage where the breastbone starts.

How to Spatchcock a Chicken


Take a sharp knife and cut down about a quarter inch through the cartilage. Cut so that you can see the breastbone.

How to Spatchcock Chicken


Use your fingers to open it up. The breastbone will release. At this point, you can remove the breastbone or leave it in if you choose. It’s up to you. Even with the breastbone, it will still lay flat.

How to Spatchcock Chicken


Flip the bird back over. You have a spatchcocked chicken.

flatten the chicken


Optional: You can take it one step further and tuck the wings behind the bird, exposing the breast and creating a more flattened bird.

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